Will electric cars soon be deprived of charging stations to save energy?

The RTE, the Electricity Transmission Network, has just released its forecast study on French electricity consumption for the winter of 2022/2023. Among the measures mentioned to save energy, cut public charging stations for electric cars at certain times or in the event of high voltage on the network.

Credits: Unsplash

This Wednesday, September 14, 2022, the RTE, the manager of the electricity transmission network in France, transmitted its long-awaited forecast study on the country’s electricity consumption during the winter of 2022/2023.

While a situation of total network blackout (i.e. the loss of complete control of the system) has been ruled out by RTE, the institution has nevertheless announced that this period will be marked by “a risk of increased voltage on the electrical system”. Several factors explain the current energy crisis. First, there is obviously the gas crisis directly linked to the war in Ukraine. Several European countries are currently encountering difficulties in obtaining supplies of Russian gas.

Also read: Buying a leased electric car at €100/month will be possible in 2023

A multi-factor energy crisis

However, gas is used by a large majority of EU countries to produce electricity. As a result, France could encounter difficulties in importing electricity produced by our neighbours. Another point concerning only our nation: the nuclear production crisis.

In effect, 32 out of 56 reactors are currently shut down in France, for maintenance or for corrosion problems. Despite the fact that EDF announced the resumption of the reactors concerned for this winter, the RTE preferred to bring forward the period of “vigilance” (note: increased monitoring of the electricity network) from November 2022.

Finally, and as recalled by Thomas Veyrenc, executive director of the RTE, on the air of BFM-TV, summer droughts have had “multiple impacts, including on hydropower generation, our second source of electricity generation. We don’t talk about it a lot, but when we combine these elements, it is natural that we arrive in a situation where the risk is increased”, he explains.

gas crisis
Credits: Unsplash

Ecowatt, the tool launched by the RTE to inform the French

To avoid leading to these power cuts, the RTE indicates that it would be necessary reduce national consumption between 1 and 5% in the majority of cases, and up to 15% on extremely cold days. To alert and inform the French in the event of tension on the network, the RTE has launched the Ecowatt system. This free tool allows you to see in real time the level of electricity available in the country, via a three-color “weather” system:

  • Green for normal consumption
  • Orange for tense electrical system
  • Red for very tense electrical system

Forecasts will be published for the next three days, as well as the detail, hour by hour, of the periods of tension. The aim is to allow users to adapt their uses accordingly to avoid possible cuts and load shedding. Note, however, that you will have to be registered on the site. and have downloaded Ecowatt mobile app to receive these alert notifications (100,000 subscribers only for now).

electric charging station
Credits: Unsplash

The case of electric car charging

In the study published by the RTE, the organization gives ways to reduce its electricity consumption. Without surprise, the bulk of the effort will have to be applied to the heating (temperature and times of use) without forgetting lighting and electronic devices. However, the institution also mentioned the case of charging electric cars.

One new car sold in ten being electric in France, the recharging of these vehicles is inevitably beginning to weigh on the country’s electricity network. In the event of a red alert issued by the EcoWatt system, the RTE advises shift the time of recharging in off-peak hoursi.e. between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and at night.

In addition, the agency makes another hypothesis: that of cutting off access to charging stations during peak consumption. Please note, we are talking here about public terminals, and not home charging solutions. Nevertheless, a “Force” mode could be accessible in case of emergency. Nevertheless, the RTE specifies that the implementation of this measure will depend solely on the good will of the operators.

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